I have always admired October for the miracle it performs in pulling out of thin air that extra hour. As a little girl, the excitement of staying up those extra sixty minutes while maintaining the disciplined bedtime hour proved to be as awing a moment as when you could finally predict the pattern of traffic lights that your parents seemed so keenly aware of. In those overlapping minutes suspended in time your life happens twice, and the possibility that you could make a mistake but go back and fix it before time continued was elusive and hopeful. But through all the time-travel fantasies I played in my mind, it never occurred to me that those extra hours could change my life in so poignant and negative a manner as it did this year. My story begins more than a year ago, however I know now that it wouldn’t take the shape of a story until this October.
"You’re late," were Mike’s first words to me.
"Hi, I’m Alex," I argued, with the formal American handshake extended, a politeness I practice out of habit regardless of circumstance.
I a student at the University and was looking for a room and Mike, who had recently moved into town, was looking for a roommate. A week after our introductions I moved in, and a week after that I was waking up in his bed instead of mine. I would say he had me from hello, but he never said hello, and looking back I know he could have cursed at me and I would have fallen for him just the same. We just got along really well, we meshed, we clicked, we had chemistry. It’s hard to define just what it was about him that made looking away from him such an impossibility, but when you looked in his eyes it was like watching the world being created and you felt as if you were the most amazing thing that had ever happened to him. In the months after, I would continue to steal glances in anticipation of that ethereal suggestion his gaze offered. (The last time I looked that universe was still there, yearning to become a tangible world in our unworthy reality).
Mike lived his life through a grid that yielded amazement and left those who stayed long enough to converse with him impressed. He spoke Portuguese, English, French, Spanish and German fluently from a childhood spent in Europe. He played the piano, he composed music, he directed movies, he was a photographer, an inventor, a scientist, and in short everything you could possibly want to be. He could do all the house repairs, change the oil in his car, and stage a photo shoot in the same day. He even surprised me when I discovered he was talented in the kitchen as well. But his talents were shadowed by his ability to dream with a passion and fervor reserved for gods and children. The hours were countless that I would listen to him tell me of the world he was creating, the ideas he wanted to bring to life, and the experiences he wanted to choreograph. Listening to him, there’s no doubt that these visions were already real and waiting only for time to make them appear in the present tense. More than admiration, more than adoration and at times even waiting for love to catch up, I believed in him. Until I met him, I had identified myself as agnostic, only to realize he was the closest I had been to worship, humility, faith, and unconditional love.
Mike immigrated to America with lofty ideas of roads paved with gold, the glitter of Hollywood, and the high reaching skyscrapers of New York. He came, like so many before him, with hope in his pocket and a dream in his heart and like America herself, Mike has way of being able to realize dreams. A few years ago he dreamed of a computer company that could put to shame the competition already existent. It would be a company so innovative and technologically advanced, people wouldn’t know what rocked their world until it was all said and done. So with the change in his pocket, he started the computer company, one which took the world by storm the day they officially opened. However capitalism requires hard cash and Mike struggled with the company, knowing he would need to find investors willing to believe his dream as well. The summer we met he had received the monetary value of the half of the company he had turned over to a reverse merger. At the time, I was a full-time student taking summer sessions to catch up and I was working as a less-than-part-time waitress at a small restaurant down the street, more to keep myself occupied than to earn anything substantial.
He called me at work and from the strain in his voice I ruled out any possibility of good news, and mentally prepared myself for either terminal illness or death.
"Babe, I have something to tell you. What time do you get home?" In my mind I thought I’ll leave now but practicality spoke before emotion burst through.
"I’ll be home no later than 2-is everything ok?"
An unconvincing, "Yeah, yeah..everything’s fine. Come home soon."
To buffer my surprise, I thought of all manners of devastating circumstances that could possibly have happened, not limiting my imagination to HIV, esophageal cancer, Parkinson’s disease, the complete annihilation of the nuclear family, and the shock of discovering there is a baby who has your eyes.
He was sitting on the kitchen counter when I got home looking simultaneously devastated and overjoyed. I can still see him sitting there when I remember that day. Without me asking, he broke the news.
"There’s 4 million dollars in my bank account," said in a tone not different from a cashier’s monotone thank you. My mind reels again into the negative-it’s filthy lucre, it’s from the black market, we’ve been set up, the US Treasury will be knocking at our door any moment now, we have to leave the country. Thank goodness for being able to utilize, at the most crucial moments, the Asian quality in me of being balanced and practical.
"Is it supposed to be there?" The question sounds naïve traveling in my faltering voice but there’s also the confidence in knowing there isn’t a more fitting question to ask.
"Well, yeah-wait, you thought-oh, no, no, it’s supposed to be there. It’s the money from the mergers. It’s just that…" I look at him, his legs dangling off the counter like a boy’s would and before he says it, I understand.
"-I woke up today and I’m a millionaire. That’s all." And with those words a smile creeps across his face instigating mine to follow suit and without words we both know that nothing will ever be the same.
I’ve been with Mike for over two years now, and being so young, we’re still living off the money he earned from his company. We’ve traveled Europe, I finally earned my degree and Mike and I are starting to contemplate starting a family, a life together. I cherish the story of how we met, that early October day. Of how we fell into one another’s lives and fell into one another’s love. Great things happen around the world everyday, moments that change people’s lives-but the greatest and most memorable event in my life was the day I met Mike.